Advocates for Gun Rights and Gun Control Descend Upon Illinois State Capitol

AP Photo/Eric Gay

It's easy to not think of Illinois as much of a battleground on guns. It's not because there's no threat to our rights but because the population of Chicago is so vast that any hope of actually swaying people is minuscule.


But that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight. If nothing else, someone might come up with an argument that will sway a key lawmaker somewhere else. At best, it might sway some there.

And, to their credit, gun rights advocates in Illinois aren't exactly rolling over and playing dead. In fact, as gun control activists descended on the state capitol, gun rights supporters did just the same.

Advocates on both sides of the debate around gun control are using this week to champion their issues at the Illinois Statehouse.

On Tuesday, hundreds of gun control advocates from Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and others, including some from Minnesota, discussed their priorities during a rally at the Illinois Statehouse.


Illinois State Rifle Association board member Mandi Ehler said gun control advocates seem to have forgotten what the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is all about.

“Every person that’s in government actually took an oath to uphold our constitution and all of them need to go back and reread it because they are completely misguided as to what can be restricted and what can’t,” Ehler told The Center Square.

On Thursday, the Illinois State Rifle Association and other gun rights groups will be in Springfield. Ehler said they expect thousands to arrive and lobby their legislators.

“The biggest thing that we can do is show up and honestly show our legislators and show our senators that we actually do show up which means we’re also going to show up at the polls. We vote,” Ehler said. “And so if they’re not doing what’s in our best interest, we’re going to vote them out, and I’m really hoping that they understand that … they work for us.”


And, honestly, that's what you have to do. You have to vote out legislators who don't step up and vote to protect people's right to keep and bear arms.

So far, part of the problem is that this hasn't happened enough.

I often talk about Chicago's outsized impact on state politics, but they can be overwhelmed. Chicago has a population of about 2.7 million people. The state of Illinois has 12.6 million. While many of those live in different urban centers, a lot of them live in areas where people may well be receptive to the pro-gun message.

What needs to happen is for gun rights advocates to rally people in the rest of the state to try and overwhelm the anti-gun votes out of Chicago.

Yet part of that is also showing up and letting people know that yes, there are pro-gun voices in Illinois, which is what we're seeing here. They're showing up and they're warning legislators that they do, in fact, exist and that they're not interested in their gun rights being stolen from them.

My hope is that, in time, we can see Illinois abandon this anti-gun jihad they've been on for so many years and embrace the fact that gun rights aren't just constitutionally protected but they save lives.

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